I recently moved into the great city of Troy, New York (home of the Uncle Sam) to begin my education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). I am currently studying Computer Science, although I am considering adding a minor in economics if I feel that I can handle it. (waiting to see how my ECON 1200 class turns out before I hand in that form). Like many college freshmen, this was a huge adjustment for me (and my family) as I have never lived away from home before. When I said goodbye to my brothers and my parents, it occurred to me as I walked across the campus from EMPAC back to my dorm that I was on my own for the first time in my life. Obviously I wasn’t entirely independent, I call home fairly frequently and still am financially and emotionally dependent on my family. They have been instrumental in helping me get through this transition, which is a bit tougher than I imagined. My roommate, Alex, has also been fantastic and we do a lot of stuff together, which helps me avoid feeling lonely.

Problem Solving

As I began to get all the syllabi for my various courses, which included all the required textbooks and online education platforms that I would need, I got fairly overwhemled. I essentially have a different platform I needed to figure out how to use for each class along with the general stuff like Blackboard. Back in high school, I really only had one system: Gradeconnect, which I actually found out recently was shelved in favor of some newer system. This was definitely intimidating at first, as I made the mistake of trying to tackle all four classes at once. In reality, I just needed to take the same problem solving approach I take when working on software and apply it to college.

A Linear Approach to College

Back during my “senior week” vacation, I happened to have an interesting 12:30am conversation with a great friend of mine, Rosario, that branched off onto a lot of different philsophical and technical topics. One of these was basically me explaining how programming and designing complicated systems work and how the development is apporached. I used the example of the Apple iPhone. It’s a fairly complicated system (although easy to use) that involves a lot of different parts. An iPhone requires a screen with a way to take in user input (digitizer); some flash memory to store user data and programs; different radio chips for cellular, wifi, bluetooth, nfc, etc; and of course your traditional ARM processor & RAM which makes it a computer. Each of these things gets broken down into an increasing quantity of seperate problems, which are simpler to tackle. Eventually you break this impressive feat of engineering down into little bite size problems, which can be easily (in comparison to the original problem of designing a smartphone) be tackled.

This same approach has been what I’ve started to employ with reguards to college. I took a huge problem of figuring out everything I need to figure out, and began to tackle it class by class. I worked through my data structures homework and began to figure out what I need to have together for the lab I have on Wednesday. I went through the syllabus and introduction information for my physics class, registered for the correct platform for my homework, and read over the appropriate introductory material in the textbook. In my calculus class, I got the WebAssign access I needed configured and plan to get started on doing some of the review problems after I publish this. I figured out what I need to read in the eText for my economics class and have made a plan to read it either later tonight (9/2/2018) or early tomorrow. After I began to work through all this stuff and take it class by class, problem by problem, it greatly helped me process everything and it is making a large improvement in my stress level.

Final Thoughts

I hope if any of my former high school peers are reading this, I hope the transition has been going well for you all. Some of you have randomly reached out to me in the past two weeks or so and that has really meant a lot to me and brightened up my day. Also if any family is reading this, hi! Everything is going fine.

Published on 9/2/2018